In how many books and how many movies has the sheriff been the ultimate hero, men life Buford Pusser, Patt Garrett, Bat Masterson and today in real life Joe Arpaio. He vanquishes evil, gets the heroine and they have really hot sex. So where did the sheriff come from?
More than twelve hundred years ago, the country we now call England was inhabited by small groups of Anglo-Saxons who lived in rural communities called tuns (a group of ten families).
The Anglo-Saxon word for chief was gerefa, which was later shortened to reeve (group of 100 families). During the next two centuries, a number of changes occurred in there system which led to a new unit of government, the shire (groups of hundreds banded together), which is now known in America as a county. So to distinguish the leader of a shire from the leader of a mere hundred, the more powerful official name became known as a shire-reeve.
The word shire-reeve eventually became the modern word for sheriff (the keeper, or chief, of the county). In the year 871, under King Alfred the Great, the Sheriff was responsible for maintaining law and order within his own county.
Over the years as the country became more centralized the King distributed huge tracts of land to various nobleman who governed those lands under the King’s authority. The nobleman appointed the Sheriff for the counties he controlled and for those areas not given to noblemen, the King appointed his own Sheriff. Over the next few centuries, the Sheriff remained the leading law enforcement officer for the county.
When English settlers came to the new world, the office of Sheriff traveled with them. The first American counties were established in Virginia in 1634 and one of these counties elected a Sheriff in 1651.
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, American Sheriff’s were assigned a broad range of responsibilities by colonial and state legislatures, such responsibilities as tax collection and law enforcement were carried over from England. Some new responsibilities were added such as over seeing the jails and workhouses.
As America began to move Westward, they took the concept of county jails and the Office of Sheriff with them. The sheriff was desperately needed to establish order in lawless territories where power belonged to those with the fastest draw and the most accurate shot. Here it is said that sheriff fell into two categories, the quick and the dead.
In my latest release, Dark Secrets, from Decadent Publishing (part of the Western Escapes series), Sheriff Hawk Blackwater is the top law enforcement office for he county where Freewill, Wyoming is located. Hawk carries a lot of dark secrets—a lifetime fighting ugly crime in Phoenix, dealing with his mixed raced heritage (his mother is Caucasian, his father Yavapai Indian), and a marriage that self-destructed. He has come to Freewill, Wyoming to begin a new life in the wide open spaces of the state. Little does he know he will run into more dark secrets than he wants to handle—the unsolved murder of the former sheriff, the mysterious lights that come and go in the nearby Laramie Mountain, and a woman who is obviously running for her life.
You’d think he’d decide this wasn’t the place for him after all. But being the alpha hero he is, he delves into the mysteries, especially the one involving Riley Scott. When chemistry unexpectedly explodes between them and an attraction develops so strong neither can turn away from it, he adds ferreting out her dark secret to his to-do list. And as their relationships deepens, it becomes his number one priority.
“Interesting, “ Hawk commented, watching the woman leave the restaurant. “Wonder what her secret is?”
Brady lifted an eyebrow. “Secret? How do you even know she’s got one?”
“Instinct. Half lawman, half Yavapai. All the signs are there. If I didn’t know better I’d think she might have something to do with John Foster’s death. Or even the lights in the Laramies that come and go.”
“How do you know she’s not?” Brady asked.
“If she’d killed Foster or been a party to it, she’d be long gone, not hanging around here. Besides, she showed up months after the murder. But I wonder if she has something to do with these strange lights that are driving me crazy.”
Brady frowned. “What makes you think that?”
Hawk shrugged. “The lights didn’t show up until a couple of weeks after she got here. And she sure acts like she’s got something to hide. ”
“Maybe she’s running away from something,” Brady suggested. “Or someone. Don’t you think that’s more likely? She lands here in a place that’s not exactly a destination spot for people. Unless they’re going to the Misbegotten Gaines Ranch. She doesn’t exactly reach out to people. Just keeps to herself. As far as I know the only places she goes besides work are the bookstore, Wyoming Eats and the grocery.”
“She’s not on any Wanted list. Could be she just likes her own company.”
“If you’re so curious you could always drop in at Books and More and the two of you could have a reading hour together.” Brady grinned. “You do read, don’t you, Hawk?”
Hawk made a face. “Very funny. But I might just drop by Darnell’s place. I’m out of feed for the horses and few other things.”
“You could always call in your order.” Brady laugh. “Save yourself a trip.”
Hawk just shook his head shoved his hands in his ranch jacket and walked towards the feed store.
Leave it alone. You have other things more important to focus on.
But he hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind. He didn’t know why she was bugging him. She certainly wasn’t any of his business, but his curiosity was on full alert. As was another part of his body. Deliberately he tamped down the feelings surging through him. He had no business letting himself get involved with anyone. Especially someone who was obviously carrying a pound of trouble.
Go back to your office. Haven’t you got enough going on without piling on more?
But his feet kept moving in the direction of Freewill Feed and Supplies, trying to remind himself he had more important things than scoping out a woman doing her best to blend into the background. One of these days his curiosity was going to get him into real trouble.
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